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Thermostat Settings that Save Money While Keeping You Warm and Comfortable This Winter

Updated on October 27, 2012
It is cold outside.  Managing your programmable thermostat settings can help you stay warm and save money too.
It is cold outside. Managing your programmable thermostat settings can help you stay warm and save money too. | Source

Optimal Thermostat Settings to Stay Warm without Going Broke

Heating bills can be costly during the winter, and we want to be frugal and preserve energy as much as possible. But you also want to be able to be comfortable, and have the energy to do things that will make you money. How do you find the right balance?

You can save money on your utility bills by taking some simple steps to prepare for winter. The first step is to insulate the house. You can install weather stripping, and have insulation in your attic, and wrap your heating and water pipes. You can install plastic on your windows if they leak air. This will help use our energy efficiently.

Bring out the warm sweaters and put away the summer clothing. Putting away shorts and t-shirts is especially important if you have children, who might be in the mood to wear shorts simply because they are available. Smaller children may need pajamas with feet if they tend to kick off the covers. I place throw rugs on my hardwood floors in strategic places to give myself a warm place to step, and my dog a warm place to take a nap. I also use socks and slippers to keep my feet warm.

The other step is to install a programmable thermostat and use the settings to help save money on energy bills and still keep comfortable in the winter months. Some people believe that it costs more money to heat the home back up than it does to keep it cool. This is not true. The longer the house stays at the cooler temperature, the more money you will save.

Suggested Thermostat Settings

By programming the thermostat to effectively monitor the temperature in the house, you can keep comfortable and save money on your utility bills at the same time. Most thermostats give you a variety of options for setting. Of course you want to keep the house warm during the day and keep it cooler during the night while you are sleeping under blankets. But there are ways you can fine-tune setting your thermostat to save even more money.

The same thought process will take place for the weekends, but the times and activities will differ depending on your lifestyle. Before touching the thermostat, sit down and consider your day-to-day activities and make a list of the preferred times and temperatures throughout the day.

Waking Up

You know that you would like the house to be warm when you wake up, so you want to set the thermostat to start heating just before the first person wakes up.


Then you will want to keep it at that temperature until you go to work. If everyone is away from home during the day at school and work, the thermostat can be lowered during that time period.

Home from Work and School

When the first person returns home, that person will want to be comfortable, so you want to increase the heat for his or her comfort.


During the day, the sun is coming in the windows, and people are generally active. In the evening, the sun has set, and people are resting. I like to increase the thermostat a couple of degrees for this short time period. This makes me more willing to keep the temperature cooler during the day. On days that the sun is not shining, or I am not feeling well, I allow myself to temporarily raise the thermostat setting a couple of degrees. There are not many of these days, and if I give myself permission to raise the temperature when needed, I find that I generally leave the temperature alone much of the time.


During the night, you will be sleeping under warm blankets and quilts. The temperature can be lowered during this time period. Since it will take time for the house to cool, you can set the thermostat to this temperature about an hour before you normally go to bed. I find that the lowering of the temperature also serves as a signal that it is time for bed, making it easier to go to bed on time.

Millionaire Tips Additional Suggestions

  • Use ceiling fans to blow down the heat. Be sure to change the setting so the air is blowing down, otherwise you will be cooling the room.
  • Space heaters can be used for particularly drafty rooms, or for people who are particularly cold.

What Temperature Settings Should You Use?

When you try to save too much on energy, people in the house will be uncomfortable. I feel like I am getting sick, and my body starts to ache when I am cold. This can lead to stress and fighting. It is also dangerous especially for infants, children, pets, and the elderly, who can get hypothermia and other health problems in low settings. Remember also that leaving the heat too low can burst pipes.

The optimal thermostat setting is 68° when you are at home. Most people are comfortable in the 65-72° F range, and you will want to adjust that number to meet your health needs and lifestyle. When you are sleeping or away from home, 55-60° F is the optimal thermostat setting.

Once you have come up with the times and temperatures, you can go ahead and program your thermostat accordingly. Try lower temperatures, and if they are not comfortable, raise them up one degree at a time until you find a setting that is comfortable for you. Each degree makes a big difference in your energy savings.

It is possible to stay warm this winter and still save money. By using the outlined suggestions, and programming your thermostat to the optimal thermostat settings, you can save money on your utility bills while remaining comfortable in your home.

Comments: "Thermostat Settings that Save Money While Keeping You Warm and Comfortable This Winter"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you Peg. As we get ready for another round of winter, I am gearing up to keep my gas and electric bills as low as possible. My sweaters and scarves are ready!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These helpful tips you've shared will definitely reduce the electric bill summer and winter. We enjoy our programmable thermostat year round and like others, have gotten used to the lower temperatures in the winter. Wearing appropriate clothing for the season is important, too.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      You are so right, EyesStraightAhead, you can get used to lower temperatures over time. Good for you for managing to keep it as low as you do.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      It is interesting how you can learn to not need heat as much when you are trying to conserve! I started by turning the heat to 65 during the day and 60 at night, now I am comfortable at 60 - 62 during the day and 58 at night. This has been great on the oil tank - only one fill up so far this winter! Thank you for the helpful tips!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your comment Stephanie. Programmable thermostats are not expensive, and can save you a lot of money in the long run. Here, utility companies offer energy audits, and give you a programmable thermostats for free. I'm not sure if they install them for you or not.

      I think a space heater for the morning is a good idea - there is no point of heating up the whole house for such a short period of time.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      My dad always turned on the ceiling fans in the winter, which I never understood until i was got older. I thought fans were for summer. This is a nice hub, it would be useful to have a timer on my thermostat, because I usually turn the heat off at night while I sleep to save money, but a cold house is one reason that I like to stay in bed. I keep a space heater in my room and I jump out of bed and turn it on, then shut the door and run to the bathroom. I take a hot shower, then run back to my room which is already heated by the space heater. Then I turn off the space heater, and leave the heat off until I come home for the day. It is a bother, but it certainly saves money.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Stephanie. I hate being cold, but I also hate wasting money, so programming the thermostat has become a fine art for me.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

      Great advice about how to go about programming your thermostat. I think it's especially important to have the house warm when you wake up or come home from work as that will keep you from feeling cold when you walk into the house and turning the thermostat up too high to compensate. I never thought about kids putting on shorts just because they're there! Haha...a friend of mine has a little girl who insists on wearing her bathing suit year around. Maybe this would be a good tip for her!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Formosangirl: hope you were able to stay warm. When that happens to me, it is usually because the time on the thermostat has the days and nights confused. This especially happens when I have a power outage.

      KShaefer: Thank you for visiting my hub and posting a comment. I learned about the shorts the hard way.

    • KSchaefer profile image

      KSchaefer 6 years ago from Washington, DC

      Very informative and timely as the weather is starting to get colder. I like how you give specifics of what to set the thermostat at and how to break the thermostat setting down by time of day. Your comment about young children is also very true....if they have shorts available when there is snow on the ground, then you shouldn't be surprised if they put them on and then complain about being cold!

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Woke up and the upstair thermostat was off for some reason. 62 this morning, but my husband and I were too lazy to figure it out, but we have 2 heating systems. Maybe this is good after all.